Monday, March 30, 2015

The Venetian Masks Of Shkoder

I was recently digging through old pictures from our time in Albania and was reminded of a surprising place that while I posted pictures of, I never blogged about in detail at the time. So there is no better time than now to write about the Venetian masks that are made in the city of Shkoder, Albania. (Yes, you read that correctly, there really is a mask factory in Albania and it is pretty darn neat).

I've always been fascinated by the intricate details and bright colors of Venetian masks and while we were in Albania, I had the opportunity to see them being made. And like so many places in Albania, what you see on the outside can be so deceiving about what is hidden behind the walls.

Tucked away on a back road in a warehouse off of the main road in Shkoder sits the Venetian Arts Mask Factory. A small shop sits below the factory--which in reality is more like a large open warehouse--itself. The upper floor consists of an expansive space with individual work stations spread throughout the light filled room. This is where each mask is carefully crafted by hand. Tables are filled with colorful bobbles, feathers and beads waiting to be affixed to masks. No detail is too small as the masks are first hand painted with a brightly colored base coat then set out to dry. Next other colors were added to the base with the fine details being painted freehand-- making each mask a truly unique piece of art. Later in the process pieces of glitter and beading are individually placed on the masks. It was such fun to watch a simple mask be transformed into something special and unique. The entire process of creating a mask takes days so it is no wonder that they are so treasured and expensive when purchased in Venetian markets. By coming to the source you can not only see how they are produced but can purchase your own mask at a greatly reduced price.

Once the tour was complete we returned downstairs to browse through the masks that were available to purchase. The options were unlimited and I debated for quite some time before choosing one. I have yet to wear mine to a masquerade but when the opportunity arises, I will be ready. In the meantime my mask sits on a mantle as a fond memory of our time in Albania.

So when you visit, bring cash and take your time picking out a mask or two. There are so many options that it is hard to pick just one.

If you go:

Venetian Arts Mask Factory
Rrugga Lin Delia
Shkoder, Albania
+355 68 204 72 91
Open daily 09.00-16.00, closed Sundays

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